Provocations: Avant-Garde Art in China in the 1980s

Cover image: Plate 18: Zhang Peili X? Series: No. 4 1987 Oil on Canvas; 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x 100 cm); private collection

An exhibition curated by Bingqing Wei and Minerva Inwald

Plate 18: Zhang Peili X? Series, 1986. Oil on Canvas; 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x 100 cm); private collection From Inside/out : new Chinese art / edited by Gao Minglu ; with essays by Norman Bryson ... [et al.].

Where: Exhibition Space, Level 2, Fisher Library

When: 31 August 2017- 15 July 2018.

or check out the Virtual Exhibition:

https://library.sydney.edu.au/collections/east-asian/provocations/index.html

The 1980s was a period of dramatic political, cultural, and economic change in the People’s Republic of China. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), socialist ideology penetrated every facet of China’s social and cultural realms. After the Cultural Revolution concluded, the Chinese Communist Party shifted towards a policy of “opening and reform.” China’s cultural authorities loosened their control over the artistic sphere, ushering in a period of discussion, debate, and artistic experimentation. For thirty years, official cultural policy had demanded that artistic production “serve the masses” and “serve politics.” In the liberal atmosphere of the mid-1980s, a new generation of path-breaking artists emerged across China, forming “avant-garde” groups collectively known as the ’85 New Wave movement. Concerned with the future of China’s artistic culture, ’85 New Wave artists critically engaged with Western artistic and philosophical concepts and experimented with artistic form, expanding and diversifying the artistic field. Supported by a coterie of art critics, theorists, and curators, these avant-garde artists held provocative exhibitions and published iconoclastic manifestoes. In 1989, the government’s violent crackdown on student protestors brought a decisive end to this period of avant-garde exploration, extinguishing the optimistic spirit of avant-gardism that characterised the 1980s.

This exhibition introduces materials relating to China’s avant-garde held in University of Sydney library collections, including the East Asian Collection and the Schaeffer Fine Arts Library. Focusing on important Chinese fine art periodicals donated to the University of Sydney by Professor John Clark, this exhibition explores the artworks, exhibitions, and ideas that animated the Chinese art world of the 1980s. Supplementing these primary sources with important art historical texts, this exhibition seeks to demonstrate how materials in University of Sydney library collections can be used to explore this dynamic period of art history.

 

Exhibition: Learning from Country

feature image for Learning from Country exhibition

15 May–31 July 2017

Fisher Library F03; Level 2, Exhibition Space, University of Sydney

Learning from Country from ‘The Papunya School Book of Country and History’ to ‘Australians All’

Learning from Country is an exhibition of original artwork and materials showcasing the journey behind a series of multi-award-winning books produced by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle.

Published over the course of a decade by independent Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin, these innovative books celebrate a way of learning that puts Country at the centre.

This exhibition showcases the journey behind the production of these books — a journey that began when Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle worked as consultants at the school at Papunya (Northern Territory), and were introduced to the Indigenous principle of Learning from Country that is at the core of the Papunya School Book of Country and History and the picture book memoir When I was Little, Like You, by Papunya Elder Mary Malbunka. In Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu the same principle is explored in a different Aboriginal country.

Later work that Nadia and Ken have done with students in Sydney shows that this way of learning is just as effective when the ‘country’ is the city and students’ families come from homelands scattered across the world. This was exemplified in Going Bush, in which art and writing by culturally diverse urban children is showcased.

In Playground, over a hundred Aboriginal Elders and young people from across the continent pass on their wisdom, while in Australians All Nadia and Ken present stories of young people growing up in our nation, from the Ice Age to the Apology.

While educationalists will be inspired by this exhibition to try out this holistic model for themselves, the display of text and original artwork (in draft and final form) will fascinate anyone who has ever wondered how words and images get onto the page of a picture book.

Finally, of course, Learning from Country will delight its core audience: the young Australians to whom these beautiful books belong.

Additional program

In Conversation:

LEARNING FROM COUNTRY: EDUCATION FROM COUNTRY

Thursday 25 May | 6–7:30pm

Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle will discuss an inspirational way of learning in conversation with Professor Robyn Ewing AM, Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

Complimentary but booking is essential – to register, please go to: Education from Country event booking page

 

LEARNING FROM COUNTRY: THE ART OF THE BOOK

Wednesday 7 June | 6–7:30pm

Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle in conversation with their Allen & Unwin publisher, Erica Wagner, discussing how books are made. 

Complimentary but booking is essential –  to register, please go to The Art of the Book event booking page 

 

Learning from Country – guided walks

Nadia Wheatley and ken Searle will guide you through the exhibition.

Guided Walk 1: Tuesday 23 May | 5–6pm 

Guided Walk 2: Saturday 3 June | 3–4pm

Guided Walk 3: Thursday 15 June | 5–6pm booked out

Guided Walk 4: Thursday 22 June | 5–6pm

Places are limited, please click on your preferred date to register.

 

Books showcased in this exhibition:

* Papunya School Book of Country and History, by staff and students Papunya School,

in association with Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle

* When I was Little, Like You, by Mary Malbunka

* Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, by Diane Lucas and Ken Searle

* Going Bush, by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle, in association with students from inner-Sydney schools

* Playground — Stories from Country and from Inside the Heart, compiled by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Ken Searle. Indigenous consultant Dr Jackie Huggins

* Australians All, Growing Up in Australia from the Ice Age to the Apology, by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle

 

Back to the future with O-Week

Part of the cover showing a scolar in graduation gown and hat painting the word Welkum on a building

Where: Fisher Library (level 3) and at the SciTech Library Exhibition Space

When: 22 February – 12 March, 2017

Orientation Week at the University of Sydney started in 1946. Staff at Rare Books & Special Collections dug into their resources to investigate the evolution of O-Week at Sydney Uni:

There were clubs and societies, social issues and lots of politics, from the conscientious to the cool to the kooky. The message was clear – embrace all of life during your time at Uni.

Check out our full program during O-Week.

Exhibition: Striking Chords

music sheet

19/05/2016

Sounds and stories from the Rare Music collection

The image on the poster/postcard is from Raymond Hanson’s manuscript sketches for The Immortal Touch (c. 1970s). Raymond Hanson (1913-1976) was a composer and music educator who taught composition at the Conservatorium from the late 1940s until the 1970s.
Raymond Hanson’s manuscript sketches for The Immortal Touch (c. 1970s).

When: 19 May to 30 November 2016

Where: Fisher Library F03; Level 1; Rare Books & Special Collections Reading Room

This exhibition is a celebration of the University Library’s Rare Music collection, on the occasion of its relocation from the Conservatorium Library to Fisher Rare Books & Special Collections.

When the NSW State Conservatorium of Music was officially opened on 6 May 1915, its stated aims were “providing tuition of a standard at least equal to that of the leading European Conservatoriums”. It would seem logical then that the Rare Music collection of Australia’s first dedicated music education institution be concentrated around two main cultural waypoints: the European classical music tradition that the Conservatorium sought to transmit, and the Australian musical culture that developed from this foundation.

These two areas of strength provide natural entry points for exploring this varied and intriguing collection. They provide the framework for this exhibition, the aim of which is to showcase not only the objects themselves, but the continuation of their stories through ongoing scholarship and engagement.

#Sydney_library #RareBooks #RareMusic

Exhibition: Laugh Lines and Other Distractions

4/02/2016

Comics are a natural way to communicate. If you can draw a picture, you can tell a story.

By Julie Price

When: 8 February – 31 August 2016

Where: Fisher Library F03; Level 2 Exhibition spaceLaughLine-Poster-Final_sm

Everybody knows what a comic is. We’ve all read them, laughed at them and enjoyed them. A few well-chosen images can transport meaning across language barriers.

Threads of humour are teased from many situations: political circuses; the foibles of gender; even war, as soldiers entertaining themselves find domestic appreciation for larrikin humour. So many strands to spin a chuckle from be it an ocker, a Major, a gumnut, the Little Boy from Manly; all have made Australians laugh through the years. What was true throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries holds true now – any newspaper that wants to be taken seriously simply must run a cartoon or two.

Enquiries: Rare Books and Special Collections P: +(61) 2 9351 2992

#RareBooks #Humour #Sydney_library

Rare Books Exhibition: Circumstances of Interest

2/10/2015

RavelDiaryBannerimg

Travel diaries, journals and logs from Fisher Rare Books and Special Collections

 

When: 2 October – 31 December 2015

Where: Fisher Library F03; Level 3 Corridor

 

For long-distance travelers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, keeping a journal was a popular method of keeping oneself gainfully occupied during long months spent at sea.

Through a selection of manuscript travel diaries, journals and logs from Fisher Rare Books and Special Collections, this new exhibition provides a window (or, a porthole) into the 19th century shipboard experience.

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Read more on the Rare Books blog

#RareBooks #Sydney_library